Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is the most common heritable cardiac disease in humans and cats with a prevalence of 1/500 and 1/7 respectively. HCM occurs spontaneously in cats and can cause heart failure, cardioembolic complications or sudden death, causing distress to cat owners and frustration to veterinary surgeons. Over 1000 genomic biomarkers of HCM have been identified in humans but despite the high frequency and severity in cats, as of yet, only 3 genetic markers have been identified in this species.
This four-year project is funded by the BBSRC (through an iCASE LIDo PhD studentship – student Tom Smedley) and Zoetis, one of the world leading companies in animal health and the largest producer of pet and livestock medicines and vaccines. With supervision by Royal Veterinary College academics; Dr Androniki Psifidi and Professors Virginia Luis Fuentes and David Connolly, this project aims to continue investigating the genetic architecture and underlying molecular mechanisms of HCM susceptibility in cats. The project will have a specific focus on the British Shorthair and Birman cats, and we are thankful for the support of the Breed Clubs that make this possible. By applying cutting-edge genetic and functional genomic approaches to feline myocardial and blood samplesgenetic markers, causative genes, gene networks and pathways underlying Feline HCM will be identified
Based on the findings of the project, DNA tests for feline HCM could be developed and in collaboration with Zoetis, new therapeutic targets will be identified.